Google Ordered to Change Search Results by European Union
There have been rumors for some time that Google will be hit by antitrust proceedings by the European Union. It seems those rumors have come to fruition after news today that the EU's antitrust chief has given the search engine until the 2nd July to change its search results.
The Guardian reveals that Google have been asked to change its search results and advertising rules or face being taken to court and fined massive sums.
Joaqin Almunia, the EU head of competition policy, outlined in a letter to the commission his fears on how Google's search engine dominance is damaging competition. In a statement, Google told the Guardian: "We operate in over 100 countries around the world, and the internet is disruptive by its nature. It's understandable that our business should attract scrutiny and sometimes complaints in a few of those countries. We're always happy to answer questions authorities may have about our business."
Early indications are that Google may be able to strike a deal however, with Google admitting that they are co-operating fully with the investigation in the hope that it can be resolved outside of the courtroom. Yet the investigations are mounting up so rapidly that many doubt Google can escape some strictures. For a company, which in 2001 adopted the motto "don't be evil" as a counterpoint to Microsoft, and now being sued for monopolistic practices in the U.S. and Europe, it is a strange reverse.
Almunia specifically targets Google for giving preference to its own properties in the search listings. If the EU have their way then Google will need to adjust their search listings, possibly even giving rivals preferential treatment.
Google are also facing legal issues in both France and Germany over privacy issues. In France, the company has until June 8th to provide their data protection commissioner with details around how user data is processed and how long it is stored. In Germany meanwhile they have landed in trouble after their Street View service was found to tap into wireless connections from homes.